Draft weekend no big deal after all

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:02 PM ET

MONTREAL -- There was plenty of talk and not nearly as much action.

The NHL draft looked like it was going to heat up yesterday when Round 2 started with an announcement that Florida Panthers defenceman Jay Bouwmeester had been dealt to the Calgary Flames in exchange for defenceman Jordan Leopold and a third-round pick.

Other than some minor shuffling, that's pretty well where it stopped. Big deals including names like New York Rangers' Scott Gomez, Tampa's Vinny Lecavalier or Philly's Daniel Briere never materialized.

The Bouwmeester trade was a deal involving two soon-to-be UFAs.

The Flyers had to give up a lot 24 hours earlier to get defenceman Chris Pronger, but felt they had to make the move to give themselves a shot at the Stanley Cup. Anaheim wanted money off the books and got great value for its all-star defenceman.

"There has been increased activity (as far as talks), but less deals. I wasn't surprised. I really think a lot of us GMs are reluctant to kind of dip our toe in the water right now. That makes for less trades," said Boston GM Peter Chiarelli.

CONSERVATISM

"There's a general conservatism because of the uncertainty (with the salary cap and the economy). You feel the market is going to adjust and you want to experience that adjustment first before you start shuffling.

"That's the only reason I can think that there weren't many moves and that's the feeling I'm getting from speaking to a couple of GMs."

Fans in Montreal were holding out hope that Lecavalier would be wearing a Habs jersey by the end of the weekend. While Tampa Bay's management team denies it, there have been talks.

CAP EXPECTED TO DROP

The salary-cap ceiling has only gone up $100,000 to $56.8 million US for next season. It's expected to drop the following year.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren believes there could be more trades during the summer.

"There was a lot of discussion here and I think what happened was there were a lot of seeds planted for deals in the future," said Holmgren. "We were able to make a deal and add a talented piece that we feel is going to help us. We had to pay a big price to get him.

"In the end, if you make a deal, the end has to justify the needs. We felt (Pronger) did."

Toronto GM Brian Burke, who was in talks to deal defenceman Tomas Kaberle to the Bruins for forward Phil Kessel, said there was groundwork laid that could result in a deal or two. If trades didn't involve draft picks, there wasn't any pressure to wrap anything up this weekend.

"Right now, it's so hard to move guys, especially anybody who has any term left on their contracts," said Burke. "I thought there would be more activity ... I'm not quite sure why there wasn't. We've started some discussions with a couple of teams and we've agreed to resume them.

"That's probably true for everybody here. Any time you get the GMs in one room, that happens. You might not see any trades at a meeting, but you might see three or four in the next seven days after the meeting. Then you go back and realize that trade incubated while they were at the meeting."

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA


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